The Association of Foreign Affairs (abbreviated UPF after its Swedish name, Utrikespolitiska föreningen) was founded on February 8th, 1935 to promote the dissemination of information on international issues and encourage debate on foreign policy. The founder and first chairperson of the association was Gösta Lindeberg (1910_1995) who, together with the board of Lund Academic Association for the League of Nations (Lunds Akademiska Förening för Nationernas Förbund), decided to establish the Association for Foreign Affairs.
According to the founders, the League of Nations Association lacked a sufficiently broad basis to impartially study all international issues. The new association would adhere to the fundamental principles of the League of Nations, but it was to be politically and religiously independent.
In 1951, UPF joined the Swedish Students’ UN Federation (Sveriges Studenters FN-förbund) and became a regular UN association. The cooperation with the UN Federation – that in 1972 changed its name to the UN Federation of the Associations for Foreign Affairs – continued until 1984 when UPF instead joined the Red Cross during a two year trial period. Since 1986, UPF is a fully independent student’s association.
Despite the first paragraph of the UPF Charter, which establishes political independence, the Association has both followed and resisted political currents of the surrounding world. During the Second World War, UPF adopted a pro-British attitude, while during the 1960s and 1970s it displayed certain left-wing tendencies.
Over the years, the number of activities and members has varied. During the first decades, the Association was considered very large with an average membership of 100 students and one lecture organised per month. However, during the 1960s, UPF had more than 500 members, and gave one or two lectures per week. Later, in the 1970s, the Association experienced a period of relative inactivity when the membership dropped significantly and there were but a few lectures per semester. The 1980s witnessed a renaissance of UPF with an increasing number of activities and members, which continued into the 1990s. An alumni network was created in 1995 for previous board members of the Association.
In the beginning of the 2000s UPF again experienced a period of difficulties with a falling number of members and ensuing financial difficulties. The four consecutive boards that worked during the final years of the first decade in the new millennium managed to reverse this trend. The Association was thus stronger than ever before, when it celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary in the spring of 2010.
The core activities of the Association have remained the same: current foreign political issues have been debated in lectures, seminars, discussion nights and study circles. Members have visited foreign countries, made study trips within Sweden, and hosted parties and formal dinners. Since 1935, almost all Swedish Foreign Ministers have given lectures for the association.
Currently, the Association has nearly 1,000 members and eight working committees. Lectures are given at least once per week by diplomats, researchers, politicians, journalists, artists, etc.; the printed magazine Utrikesperspektiv is published four times per year and its online version updated weekly; two trips per year are organised and the award-winning Radio UPF is broadcast live every Wednesday; a cooperation with the Lund Diplomatic Club has resulted in a Mentorship Programme and a Prep Course for members interested in an international career.